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Today's Marketing Cookie - Simplicity of a Child
"A great man never ignores the simplicity of a child."
Today's fortune came from Cynthia Kinnecome of Boston, MA. Cynthia has a little boutique in the North End of Boston called Eclectic Home Goods that has a passion for finding cool, unexpected home décor/furnishings & unique gifts. The next time you're in the area, stop in her shop at 189 North Street. In the meantime, please follow her on Twitter: @EclecticHG
Today's Marketing Cookie is about ignoring what people ask for and giving them simplicity.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” He was right. I've found that "simple" is the hardest thing to create. For the first twelve years of my career I was a creative director. Clients would be tempted to ask that every possible square inch of the screen be filled with something, and that there be dozens of links provided on the home page to make it "easier" for people to find what they are looking for. Back in the 1990's many of my clients had caught the Yahoo! Portal Disease and there was no known cure for it. In the beginning, I wasn't strong enough to push back and just I took orders, making busy site after busy site. However, over the years I've observed that when users are given too many choices on a website, they will often choose none.
When Steve Jobs first designed the iPod, all of the focus groups told him that they wanted more buttons. I'm not sure if you remember those old Microsoft-style MP3 players, but they had dozens of tiny little buttons on them. Then, one day, the iPod came out with just one button and a fly wheel. The MP3 industry suddenly said, "OMG". The simplicity was astounding and it changed the music industry forever.
The iPhone followed exactly the same storyline. The competitors where following what the focus groups asked for, with flip out keyboards and dozens of buttons. Then the iPhone came out with just one button and a touch screen. The world was astounded and the people in the mobile phone industry said, "WTF?" (What's That Fone?) The mobile world was changed forever. In an interview with Business Week, Steve Jobs said, "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."
Steve Jobs was the master of achieving simplicity. He found ingenious ways to hide the immensely complex and sometimes overwhelmingly intimidating systems that existed within computers and mobile devices - and he somehow brought it all down to a single button. As adults, we become fearful of clicking "the wrong thing" or accidentally changing a setting somewhere and then not being able to "get it back to normal". Meanwhile, a child is absolutely fearless, doesn't care about the cost of the GeekSquad and will click whatever buttons are available until they have achieved mastery over all the features.
Children are amazing - I know because I have three of them. They can figure out how stuff works much faster I can. This is true with the xBox startup screens, the fancy video camera controls and even our bathroom scale... which also has buttons on it. The only devices I could learn to use as quickly as my kids, were the iPhone, iPod and iPad. With just one button, how could anyone still have a learning curve? I don't know if Steve Jobs ever captured "the simplicity of a child", as today's fortune suggests, but he sure gave me the ability to learn like one.